In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, several transit agencies in the Puget Sound region have announced that they are switching to fare-free operations and some are also cutting service. As we’ve been tracking on our updated coronavirus dashboard, there are a lot of changes ahead as the situation evolves.
The general consensus is that reducing most contact between bus drivers and riders can be done with rear door boarding and withholding fare collection until conditions return to normal. Riders needing ramp or ADA access are allowed to use the front doors if needed.
As of writing (on Thursday night), seven transit agencies have announced fare collection suspensions: King County Metro, Sound Transit, Community Transit, Pierce Transit, Kitsap Transit, Skagit Transit, and Whatcom Transportation Authority. These fare suspensions apply to all services, including trains, ferries, and paratransit, and will take effect at various times, the latest so far being Tuesday, March 24.
Full details after the jump.
King County Metro and Seattle Streetcar
Metro has announced that it will no longer collect fares on its buses, water taxis, and paratransit beginning today. There are also major cuts to bus service that begin on Monday, March 23, and a service change for the Eastside that is also taking place this weekend. These fare changes also apply to the Seattle Streetcar, which will only run the First Hill line and suspend the South Lake Union line.
Sound Transit will also stop collecting fares today on all services, including Link light rail, Sounder, and ST Express. Link will remain on its Connect 2020 schedule when it resumes operations on Monday following this weekend’s downtown closure (with bus bridging in effect). Sounder trips will be reduced to 8 round trips on the South Line and 2 on the North Line. ST Express routes operated by Metro (522, 541, 542, 544, 545, 550, 554, 555, 556) will have reduced trips during rush hours. Other ST Express routes remain unaffected at the moment.
Community Transit stopped collecting fares on Friday, March 20, and will continue to encourage riders to use the rear doors until further notice. Four coach operators were diagnosed with COVID-19 and began quarantining 6-14 days ago. CT will be implementing a new supplemental paid leave program (of up to 80 hours) to allow employees to self-quarantine if sick with potential coronavirus/COVID-19 symptoms.
Beginning Monday, March 30, Community Transit will reduce its services by 25 percent. Commuter routes to Downtown Seattle, UW, and Boeing will be the most affected, while local routes will also have longer gaps and reduced hours of operation. CT has seen total boardings in mid-March decline 57 percent compared to February 2020, while ridership on commuter routes have dropped almost 80 percent.
Beginning on Tuesday, March 24, Pierce Transit will stop collecting fares and ask riders to use the rear doors for boarding. The agency’s customer service office at Tacoma Dome Station will close on Wednesday, March 25, with all inquires taken by phone instead.
Pierce Transit has also cordoned off some seats on buses to promote social distancing between passengers.
Everett Transit will continue to collect fares but is reducing service and operating hours at facilities. Beginning on Monday, March 23, buses will run on weekdays with Saturday service levels. Routes 6 and 70 will be temporarily suspended and Route 18 will use a special schedule. On Saturdays, buses will operate with Sunday service levels, except for the suspended Route 6.
Everett Station’s lobby will only be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends. The customer service center at the station will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
Beginning Monday, March 23, Kitsap Transit will stop collecting fares on its buses and ferries. The fast ferries to Seattle will have limited capacities and reservations for the Bremerton route have been suspended. The agency reports a 66 decline in bus ridership and 75 percent drop in ferry passengers in mid-March compared to late February.
Intercity Transit will require passengers to board from the rear doors on buses unless they are in need of ADA or ramp access. The agency stopped collecting fares in January as part of its pilot program, but has also reduced service in response to the coronavirus crisis. The One and DASH shuttles have been discontinued, along with commuter service to Tacoma, which has been replaced by routes to Lakewood.
Mason Transit Authority
Beginning on Monday, March 23, Mason Transit will use reduced schedules on most of its routes. Route 8 and the “Zipper” shuttle will be suspended. There will be no service on Saturday and limited service for dial-a-ride users on weekdays and Saturdays.
Clallam Transit has suspended Route 123 (the Strait Shot) between Bainbridge Island and Port Angeles, but will continue to provide regular local service.
Skagit Transit has stopped collecting fares and plans to maintain its current levels of service.
Beginning Monday, March 23, Island Transit will implement major cuts to its bus service. The reduced weekday service will be based on normal Saturday levels, with extended hours of operation. Saturday service will remain unaffected until further notice. The agency’s guided tours program has been cancelled until further notice.
Whatcom Transportation Authority
Whatcom Transportation Authority has stopped collecting fares and will not be selling passes at its outlets.